Duck owners are being asked to stop dumping their pets in ponds by animal rights campaigners.
Animal rights activists are urging duck owners to refrain from throwing their pets into ponds. ( Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (AP) – What makes a wild duck different from a pet duck?
That may sound like a joke with a punchline ready to be delivered, but it is neither a joke nor a punchline. The difference between wild and domestic ducks is significant, and it could spell the difference between life and death for hundreds, if not thousands, of ducks across the state this year.
Nobody understands this better than Adison Smith of Wasatch Wanderers, an animal rescue organization that spends a lot of her free time trying to educate people about domestic waterfowl, especially those who dump their pet ducks in local ponds and lakes.
Hundreds of ducks and other domestic waterfowl are placed in the many bodies of water across the state each year to fend for themselves, despite the fact that it is illegal, according to Smith.
It's like expecting a dog to turn into a wolf, Smith explained. Dogs don't have the same wolf instincts as domestic ducks, and domestic ducks are the same. We've genetically changed domestic ducks to the point that they can't fly, so they don't know how to forage enough food to maintain their body weight.
Ducks have been domesticated by humans for thousands of years, dating back to 4000 B.C., which means they have been genetically altered for human use and are therefore inappropriate for the wild. Many people currently buy ducklings as "pretty, cuddly pets, Smith said, despite the fact that most have been bred for meat, eggs, and even feathers.
Many families would buy ducklings in the springtime because they are cute, little, and fluffy, she explained. What they don't comprehend is that ducks poop all the time because they lack sphincter muscles, which means they can't regulate their bowels.
Many individuals would abandon or "dump" their ducks at local ponds and lakes, believing that they will get along fine with the other ducks there, according to Smith.
Culling is the process of removing domestic ducks from the water and killing them, and Smith claims that it is not only harsh, but also expensive and ineffective.
Culling is ineffective because people continue to dump their ducks, Smith explained. "I recently met with a city official who received a price for $6,000 to have 15 ducks removed and culled from their pond. "Taxpayers' money is being utilized to slaughter domestic ducks.
Smith's group, Wasatch Wanderers, is dedicated to finding homes for these ducks and does so for free, according to her. While she claims that her organization will do all possible to care for the ducks and other animals thrown in the lakes, she admits that it all boils down to education.
"I've been saving animals for a long time," Smith said, "but I didn't realize there was a need for duck rescue until I moved to Utah from Arizona." "At Jensen Park, my engagement photos were taken in front of abandoned domestic ducks. 'They're so cute,' I thought. They were all killed after that photograph, and I had no idea. Looking back, I realize I was completely deafeningly deafeningly deafeningly deafening "There is a serious lack of education."
Smith wasn't the only one who was taken aback by the ducks' beauty and was swiftly schooled about the sad reality.
"Many people will simply let them roam where there are other ducks that look exactly like theirs, assuming they would make friends." "But it isn't that," she clarified. "Those that do make it breed, and you end up with more domestic ducks."
Domesticated duck overpopulation is an issue for many ponds and lakes, according to Smith, and has been for many years. She claims that many local authorities are aware of the situation and frequently try to solve it through a culling procedure.
Abi Hubscher, a BYU biodiversity and conservation student, launched an Instagram page last year to show off the various species ducks at the university pond until one commenter pointed out that they didn't belong there. She's linked up with Smith and the Wasatch Wanderers to undertake numerous pond rescues since then.
A lot of people believe that if you release something into the wild, it will return to the wild. It'll be happy," Hubscher said. Letting things go isn't the same as letting them go.
The dangers of combining domestic and wild ducks were discussed by both Smith and Hubscher. Domestic ducks, they noted, are unable to flee predators or forage for food on their own, relying on humans to keep them alive. They both emphasized that the danger with this is that it may teach the wild birds harmful habits.
Officials and others will claim that feeding these creatures is harmful, and I'll reply, No, it isn't; it is damaging if you don't feed them, Smith said. If you don't feed them, they'll die. … Is it unsafe for wild ducks to come in and dine with the farmed ducks? Sure. It may teach wild ducks that humans are safe, and when hunting season arrives, the wild ducks approach people and are shot. It's a difficult fact to accept, but it's one we must.
The problem, according to Smith, has a simple solution: people need to stop throwing ducks in lakes and ponds. People who are serious about getting a duck should consider fostering or rescuing one, she added
Smith explained, There are so many ducks that need homes. We have ducklings, adult ducks, and even chickens and turkeys that have been abandoned. Look at local rescues before thinking about purchasing one from a retailer.
She explained, We did this with the cats when they continued reproducing and breeding. Now people are aware of feral and communal cats, as well as colonies. With the ducks, I know we can accomplish it; it's just a matter of instruction.